Nine Months and, No, I’m Not Pregnant

October 1st, 2011

I have this superstitious notion that I have to start blogging again on the first day of the month. October it is. I’m squeaking this in under the wire just so I can get past this mental block of “not blogging.” From here on out it will be easier, right?

Eleven

January 1st, 2011

1.  Floss.

No, wait.  That was last year.

Instead of resolutions this year, I decided to list eleven books I want to read during 2011.  This isn’t in any particular order (or any type of organizational system at all, really).

I’m feeling the need to spend more quality time with my books.  As much as I love the Internet, I feel that my brain has become too easily distractable, if not a little mooshy around the edges.

All links go to the book’s amazon.com page

  1. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (Michael Foucault)
  2. Landscape and Memory (Simon Schama)
  3. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
  4. All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (Hubert Dreyfus)
  5. A Briefer History of Time (Stephen Hawking)1
  6. The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature (H.P. Lovecraft)
  7. Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
  8. Grant and Sherman: The Friendship that Won the Civil War (Charles Bracelen Flood)
  9. The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose (T. S. Eliot, Lawrence Raney) 2
  10. Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s American (Laura Shapiro)
  11. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Michael Pollan)
* * * * *
  1. I’ve started Hawking’s book twice before, and it made my head hurt.  I’m willing to give it another go, since I feel brain cells dying off by the thousands these days.  This, and Nos. 6 and 9, will be the most difficult for me. []
  2. A review on the amazon page states that The Waste Land has “a high degree of allusive difficulty.”  No sh*t, Sherlock.  That’s why I bought the annotated version without blinking.  I seriously doubt the little paperback from my English major days in college would help me navigate it alone. []

The Heart of Winter

December 23rd, 2010

I am (finally) on my days of vacation surrounding Christmas.

This is the best time of year for me: celebrating Yule and the winter solstice.  I am far away from the misery of summer.  This is the time when I get to unplug from the stress and deadlines and demands at work and thoroughly enjoy the quiet, the warmth, of the heart of winter.  Call it the Peace of the Season; call it what you will.

Oh Winter! ruler of th’ inverted year…

I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem’st,
And dreaded as thou art!  Thou hold’st the sun
A pris’ner in the yet undawning East,
Short’ning his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy West; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering at short notice, in one group,
The family dispers’d, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers’d by day-light and its cares.

I crown thee King of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb’d retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know.

The Task, Book IV: The Winter Evening — William Cowper

entering totality ... 12/21/2010

Just How Many Turquoise Berets Does One Woman Need?

December 19th, 2010

Two.  At least two.  One lightweight, fluffy, lacy one for when autumn (or spring) days are too chilly to go without a hat, and a denser one for the winter.

Worn

Pattern: Crooked Paths Slouchy Hat1

Yarn: Berroco Lustra, 50% Peruvian wool, 50% Tencel, Montmarte colorway.  The Tencel gives it a lovely, luminous sheen, which is hard to photograph.  Some knitters on Ravelry had issues with itchiness and/or splittiness, but I didn’t.  Splitty-yarn issues are easily remedied by using super-pointy needles, so this was my first project done on the Addi Lace Click interchangeables.  The yarn softened considerably after being washed in Soak.

Size: One size.  You could play around some with it by changing needle size, but I’m not an expert on doing that.

Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 8 (5.0 mm)

Mods: None

With Snow 2

Those little white bits in the photo — ice crystals.  It was darn cold this morning.

Comments: I love it, and it came out perfectly.  I was somewhat concerned because this was my first project with the Lustra, and I wasn’t certain how it would behave.2  I’m seriously considering a pair of mittens to go along with the hat.  I’m normally against the matchy-matchy crap, so I’m going to have to ponder the mittens.  Maybe if if find the perfect pattern…

* * * * *
  1. Non-Ravelry link to designer’s blog. []
  2. Yes, I did a swatch and blocked it.  Swatches lie.  We all know that. []

The Question of Thankfulness

November 25th, 2010

Today, in the United States, it’s Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, besides being our country’s annual demonstration of gluttony, also used to be the official beginning of the Holiday Season.1   Apparently, that has changed over the past few years and the “Holiday Season” now begins the day after Halloween.  Ridiculous.  I love the old Germanic pagan elements of Yuletide.  Putting up a plastic Christmas tree a week before Thanksgiving rings hollow.  Real trees, people! Real trees!

In any event, I’ve been thinking about being thankful.  Not the traditional, generic “lip service” statements of thankfulness that we hear today, but honest-to-goodness specifics.

I am thankful for:

1.  My dentist.  I am a complete wimp when it comes to get my teeth cleaned, let alone anything more than that (like a filling or, God forbid, an extraction).  My dentist’s office has state-of-the-art equipment and great staff.    I had a standard cleaning and six-month exam on Tuesday.  It took no time at all and my teeth didn’t hurt for days afterward.

2.  Our 2001 Volvo S60. Yeah, so she’s a little frayed around the edges, but she’s taken years of abuse and only has 76,000 miles on her.  She’s built like a tank, has eleventy crumple zones, side air bags, side curtain air bags, and seat warmers.  Oh, and those cute little wipers on the front headlights.  We haven’t had a car payment in at least six years (if not more).   Have I mentioned how poorly engineered American cars are compared to Volvos?

3.  The catering division at my local supermarket.  I am so not cooking today.  I did make a batch of to-die-for sweet potatoes last night, but other than that, all I need to do is put stuff in the oven and wait for the turkey to reach an internal temperature of 165°F.  The side dishes also came packed in a most-excellent cardboard box that will offer hours of cat entertainment.

4.  Yarn.  What did I do with myself before I learned how to knit?  During the long weekend, I hope to make a lot of progress on the socks for Teh Husband and another pair of mitered mittens.

funny pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

* * * * *
  1. “Holiday” meaning any (or all) of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Saturnalia, and Festivus. []

Autumn’s End

November 20th, 2010

Orange Mystery Flower Nov 2010

Maple Leaf - Nov 2010

Sphynx LOLCat with Yarn

FO with Leaves 2

Pattern: Mitered Mittens from Knitter’s Almanac (May), by Elizabeth Zimmermann1

Yarn: Rowan Tapestry in Moorland, a little over one skein’s worth (approx. 145 yards).  You could make them with just one skein if you shortened the cuffs, but the long cuffs are the best part.

FO with Leaves

Size: Adult small

Needles: U.S. Size 5  (3.75 mm)

Mods: The pattern as written has an “afterthought” thumb, similar to EZ’s afterthought pocket. 2  Despite the adrenaline rush I get from cutting steeks, I passed on this way of adding thumbs because I think mine would turn out too sloppy for my liking.  Many Ravelers followed the instructions for making a thumb using a gusset method found here.

Comments: I’m fond of these mittens, but I’m thinking I need to make six or seven pairs with self-striping yarn.  I’ve already cast on for a pair in Noro Silk Garden in the light neutrals colorway.

* * * * *
  1. I invested in the hardcover commemorative edition of the Almanac, and I think it was well worth it.  The Yarn Harlot’s introduction is all kinds of awesome. []
  2. Nicely blogged, with photos, in this post. []

Random Randomness

October 30th, 2010

Subtitled:  Because posting my wayward, disjunctive observations is better than posting nothing at all.

1. One of my goals for the weekend to finally, finally, FINALLY complete my body donation information for the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center.  I need to send in photographs with the paperwork, and I’m wondering if I should give myself a facial beforehand.1

1(a). I think I’ve been having more fun playing around with online photo-editing than with trying to select acceptable pictures of myself to submit to UT.  Click for bigger version, if only to see the tombstones on the darker background:

1(b). Once I mail everything off, I will treat myself with a UT hoodie.  I look rotten in orange, so I’m thinking this one or this one.

2. Even though I sometimes complain about how busy I am at work, I truly enjoy meeting and talking with many of my clients.  I had a retired professor suggest that it would be a wonderful idea if you could designate a person in your Will who would be responsible for finishing all the unread books you have in your library when you die.  This adds new meaning to the words “literary executor.”

3. Teh Husband and I bought enough Halloween candy yesterday to pacify ten busloads of preschoolers.  I’m not even going to count the bags.

3(a). 29, not counting the mini Butterfingers for me and the mini Almond Joys for him.

3(b). Something tells me we will have enough chocolate in this house to last until Epiphany.  The number of trick-or-treaters we get at our house is dependent upon the weather.  I remember Halloween in Michigan.  Sometimes we had to wear parkas over our costumes.

4. I’m knitting a pair of mittens for me.

This will eventually turn into a pair of mitered mittens.  One mitten down; one to go.  Thumbs are for last so I can match the colors from the leftover yarn.

The pattern is from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac,2 and I’ll do a full write up with yarn info and such when they’re finished.

5. Here’s a photo of Christopher.  Just because.

* * * * *
  1. Bliss Triple Oxygenating Instant Energizing Mask FTW. []
  2. Chapter: May – Mittens for Next Winter []

The Return of LOLCat Friday!

October 15th, 2010

coffee day LOL

I think coffee is the only thing keeping me going at the moment.

Nothing to See Here, Folks… It’s Only Yarn. Move Along, Please.

September 18th, 2010

Alchemy Silk Purse Desert Rose Close UpFrom time to time, I become besotted with certain yarn.  Sometimes it’s the brand1 and sometimes it’s the color.  I remember being captivated by a bright orange/pink/gold hank of Alchemy Silk Purse.

I was browsing Ravelry (which is always a dangerous occupation) looking for a lace scarf or shawl pattern, when I saw a project done with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in a colorway called Calligraphy.  It hit my Vintage, Victorian and Retro buttons, so I ordered two hanks of it right away from The Loopy Ewe.

I was not disappointed.

Tosh Merino Light - Calligraphy - rolled The first thought that came to my mind was “Miss Havisham.” I usually think of her when the autumn rolls around.  A faded bridal bouquet.  The rustle of moldering silk.  Genteel decay.  Shadows.

I’m going to try the Deep Peace shawl/scarf with it. 2  Try is the operative word.  I know my knitting skills are up to it, but I don’t know about my ability to focus.  Another thing that comes around with the cooler weather is a bad case of Startitis.

Okay, then.  Have I thrown out enough distractions?  Bored the non-knitters to tears?  Maybe I should toss in another photograph, or a bit of poetry…. Whatever it takes to keep the readership down to the knitters and allows me to get to the raison d’etre of this particular post: hand-knit Christmas gifts.

If you’re one of my sisters-in-law (on Teh Husband’s side of the family), stop reading now.

Really.

We mean it.

No Peeking!

Click here to continue reading and see the pretty pictures, unless you’re one of my sisters-in-law.  You don’t want this cat to go medieval on your butt now, do you?3

* * * * *

  1. MalabrigoDream in Color, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, The Woolen Rabbit,  and about a dozen others I could name. []
  2. I got the pattern through Ravelry.  I don’t know if it’s available elsewhere. []
  3. Anyone who knows me and my cats knows that Aaron is the sweetest and happiest cat I have with me.  I think the most he would do would be to make his tail go poofy. []

Au Revoir, Summer (and Good Riddance, Too, I Might Add)

September 2nd, 2010

It started with the fall catalogs.  I could tell that that this Long, Hot, Miserable, Satan’s Arsehole1 of a Summer would soon be gone.  Then came the fall knitting magazines, both in print and online.  Sweaters!  Mittens!  Wool!  Cozy stuff!  As soon as I finished the ESTJ Socks, I cast on a lightweight beret for myself.

FO 1

Pattern: Anthera from Twist Collective.  For a mere $6.00, you get a pattern for a beret, cowl, and cuffs.  Instructions are charted, not written out.  Twist Collective has great charts in terms of legibility and ease of use, so don’t wimp out if you’re chart-phobic.  If you can knit, purl, yarn over, ssk, and k2tog, you can make this beret.  I can’t believe that I’m the only person on Ravelry who has made this beret thus far.

Yarn: Louisa Harding Kimono Angora Pure (70% angora, 25% wool, 5% nylon) in Color No. 6, Teal.  I say it’s Turquoise.  Approx. 90 yards.

Size: One size.

Needles: US size 4 and 5 (3.5 mm  and 3.75 mm, respectively) both Brittany Birch DPN’s and Addi Natura 16″ circular

Mods: None, other than the absence of a dorky i-cord macaroni thingy on top.  I’m not fond of dorky i-cord macaroni thingies, so I just left it out.

Comments: This needed Aggressive Blocking to get it to the point where I thought it had enough slouch to be called a beret.   Aggressive Blocking translates to a full 30-minute soak in Soak and a 10½ inch dinner plate.   The lace pattern really opened up.  If you like a lot of slouch in your berets, I think you could do an additional repeat of Rows 1-12 from Chart A and add about 1½ to 2 inches to the depth of the hat.

Aggressive Blocking

This is perfect for fall.  I plan on wearing it with my brown leather jacket and Norovirus Scarf v. 2.0

* * * * *
  1. Like everything, there’s a story behind this one.  I was going to compare the hot weather to the 9th Circle of Hell.  Then I remembered — somewhat incorrectly — that the 9th Circle was where Satan was face-planted in ice.  The face-planting part  was what I misremembered.  In Dante’s Inferno, Satan is embedded in ice at his middle, and as Dante and Virgil pass through the exact center of Hell and get to the other side, they see Satan’s rear view.  Long story short, I thought that as you leave the 8th Circle and move into the 9th, you would see Satan’s butt. []

It Was a Very Good Year

August 27th, 2010

Laiane and B.J. Eroquil - Early 1970's

These are photos of my twin brother and me, taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 1970-1972 or so.  Teh Husband and I bought a printer cum photocopier cum scanner, and I’ve been messing around with scanning old photographs.  You know, the ones from back in The Dark Ages when everything wasn’t digitized and there were such things as film and negatives.

I scanned these with the idea that I would update my Facebook avatar with a photo of myself, albeit one taken almost 40 years agoLaiane in the early 1970's - Headshot.  It may sound odd, but every time I see this avatar of myself, I feel happier.  It reminds me, somehow, of when I was feisty and playful and had all those years stretching out ahead of me.

I’m not saying that I’m no longer feisty, or that I feel that I’m out of time.  No, it’s not that.  I see this little girl and know that she’s still a part of me, that I’m still pretty damn feisty, and that I would like to get out of this dress, please, and into my playclothes so I can go climb trees or play down by the creek.  Milk and cookies afterward.

Socks Fit for an ESTJ. Well, I Hope They Fit.

August 22nd, 2010

One of my co-workers  is having a birthday today.  Sometimes I find it rather challenging to work with her because she’s an off-the-charts extrovert and I an on-the-charts-in-the-95th-percentile introvert.

That 95% percentile business is from the Myers-Briggs personality test that’s on the bar graph to the right.  My four-letter personality “type” is an ISTJ.  I had emailed a similar test to my co-worker a few years ago, an she came out as an ESTJ.  You would think that we would get along really well, but I have to tell you that’s just not the case.1  The person at the office with whom I get along best is diametrically opposed to me – an ENFP.2

Despite this conflict personality-wise I have with the Birthday Girl, I thought it would be a good idea to knit her a pair of socks.  There are several reasons behind this:

  • Every time I wear my Tonks’ Socks, she compliments them, my knitting skills, or the cool self-striping sock yarn.
  • She’s had a rough year.  Her father passed away not too long ago and her family is, to put it mildly, dysfunctional.
  • It would help me get over myself.

So, here they are:

FO

Pattern: Basic Sock Pattern, Ann Budd, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges.

Yarn: Opal Rainforest 6-ply. This is a sport weight yarn, and you can fly through a pair of socks. Of course, it took me three months to finish these because I am… uh… easily distracted by other knitting projects.

Size: Woman’s M/L. I hope they fit!  I had to sorta/kinda guess.

Needles: US size 2.0 (2.75 mm) Brittany Birch DPN’s.

Mods: None.  Even though I do modifications on socks I knit for myself, I needed to follow the generic pattern on this one.  Customizing a fit by guess work is not something I wanted to do.

I’ll take them in to work tomorrow.  They’re all wrapped and ready to go, along with a sample of Soak wool wash and care instruction sheet.  Yep, I’m an ISTJ all right.

* * * * *
  1. I’m not going into any particulars, because I have this thing about privacy when I write about other people on my blog. []
  2. And a Republican to boot.  I love her anyway, and she seems to put up with me rather well. She was the recipient of the Scrunchable Scarf. []

Park51

August 21st, 2010

I think I’ve found a cure for my seasonal depression — Anger.

It’s really more righteous indignation than anger, but if it’s enough to get me off my butt and write a post, I’ll take it.

There are two things that push my Anger Buttons:

  • Intolerance in any form, from your garden-variety racism to intolerance based on a person’s sexual orientation, religion, social class, etc.
  • Stomping on someone’s civil liberties.  I’m a proud, card-carrying member of the ACLU,1 and Teh Husband and I send in a monthly contribution via automatic withdrawals from our checking account.  I believe his main concern is privacy issues,2 while mine is the straightforward First Amendment stuff:  Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.

If you’re paying any attention to current events in the United States you will know exactly what I’m talking about.  I’m not here to write a post discussing the issue in detail, I just need to say this:

If you’re wrapping yourself in the flag3 and claiming what a “real American” you are for opposing Park51, it’s painfully obvious that you have no concept of the principles set forth in the Bill of Rights.  None.  You are a “faux American.”   Pathetic.  My suggestion to you is to grab a Sharpie and write “IGNORANT BIGOT” on your forehead in really big letters.  That will save us the trouble of having to listen to you.

* * * * *
  1. Since 2005 []
  2. Correct me if I’m wrong here, Sugar. []
  3. Or posting it on your Facebook profile, which is what really set me off.  I love my country and respect the flag; I dislike seeing Old Glory co-opted by a group of zealots. []

Ain’t No Cure For the Summertime Blues

July 29th, 2010

Oh, yes there is.  Lots of coffee, lots of yarn, lots of narcotics, and a daily dose of Wellbutrin XL.1

Okay, I’m being facetious here.  My summer blues are hitting me very hard  and I’m feeling rather grim and cynical.  I’m functioning, but the days are long and draining.  I find myself dreaming of cooler weather.  Long nights.  Frost.

I thought it would be a good idea to write a post — even a short one — to let the Innernets know that I’m still alive — just in a truly foul mood. When I’m “like this” writing is a chore.  Actually, just about everything is a chore.  Meh.

I’ll be back when I feel better.

* * * * *
  1. 450mg in the morning []